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ARRL Sections - West Texas

West Texas

West Texas

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West Texas
H. Dale Durham
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West Gulf
------------------------------- ARRL West Texas Section Section Manager: H. Dale Durham, -------------------------------


West Texas Section Manager’s Report

July 2019 Continued

July Section Manager’s Newsletter Continued In my earlier July Newsletter I promised a Part II. This is it! In this part I’d like to say a few words about the current bantering that is going on regarding Winlink. Life has taught me that people have perceptions of what is happening and that these perceptions are their reality. Enter the plethora of emails, bulletins and postings I’ve seen. Some of these are truthful, others are filled with half-truths and some are downright fraught with bovine excrement. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) are the folks who decide what bands are available for amateur use. Different Regions have different band allocations and they may specify what type of transmissions/modes that may be made on those bands. Here in Region 2, in the U.S. our band plans are divided up by a gentleman’s agreement. As the ARRL states “A band plan refers to a voluntary division of a band to avoid interference between incompatible modes” Folks got together and decided how to “slice up the pie” in each band allocating portions of the band to different operating modes. This has worked well for years. Now along comes new technology which requires different bandwidths for operations, and some new technologies would operate better if the baud rate was increased. These newer modes of operation create angst among many and we are off to the races. The digital wars have begun. The cry goes up that digital modes are interfering with both CW and RTTY, which are both digital modes, a fact that escapes many… And, the cry is also that some modes are infringing on other modes operational spaces. Hmmm, let’s revisit the band plan again. The band plan allocated portions of each band for types of operation. It does not give certain modes of operation specific slices of the band for each mode of operation. Along comes Winlink. Winlink is a software program that facilitates messaging. Winlink because of some of its unique characteristics has become the de-facto media to use in Emergency Communications by amateur and public service agencies alike. Winlink is widely used by public service, by private citizens and by ham radio operators alike. The Winlink website states “Winlink provides its users email with attachments, position reporting, weather and information bulletins, and is well-known for its role in emergency and disaster relief communications. Licensed Winlink operators/stations use both amateur radio and government radio frequencies worldwide.” Please note that Winlink is used on both amateur and government radio frequencies worldwide. Much of the controversial discussions that I have heard involve “Sailmail” and “Airmail” using Winlink ham frequencies. Wrong! Both of these mail services are subscription based and use business band frequencies, not ham radio frequencies. The nay-sayers say that Winlink is used to pass Spam and it is used for business use. Not true. This nay-sayer even added an advertisement for a kit available to ham radio operators that would permit them to use digital modes as an example of how bad Winlink was. The advertisement did not mention any mode of operation and clearly said it was available to ham radio operators and had information on how to get our ham radio license. Yes, Winlink does allow a ham radio operator to send email to unlicensed persons. But, the email traffic is controlled by the same provisions of Part 97 that we must abide by if using Phone, CW or other modes. Winlink has internal safeguards to prevent Spam to appear. I’ve personally been using Winlink for years and I have never seen any Spam emails on the system. The nay-sayers also want the Winlink to not use encryption. All digital modes pass encrypted messages. Anyone who has the time and desire to view every message passed may acquire the software and devices to view the contents of the messages. But, think of messages being passed during an emergency. Do we want the messages being passed to be readily readable by everyone? This would put an individual’s medical history and other sensitive information at risk. Some of the negative arguments do not make any sense to me. Back to band plans. As with many things in this day and age, adhering to established policies and procedures or in some cases laws does not play well nowdays. I’ve heard it said on the air that the band plans mean nothing and that they are free to operate where they want to. We have established band plans. We must adhere to them. This does not mean that PSK-31, RTTY, and/or FT-8 owns a particular slice of the frequency. The band plan says that within a particular range of a frequency that it is shared. If that doesn’t work, then get the proponents of the different modes together and hammer out an agreement of who works. However, don’t try to kill one of the most effective message handling methods available because some don’t like the fact it may pass information faster or use more bandwidth than CW. Instead of reading and listening to the nay-sayers. Do your own research and find out what’s true or not. 73, Dale, W5WI WTX Section Manager

West Texas Officials